It’s an opportunity he didn’t expect to get and Huntly’s John Henderson is determined to savour his World Cup experience.
The Highlander and Robert Thornton are representing Scotland at the PDC’s World Cup of darts and start their campaign against Japanese duo Seigo Asada and Yuki Yamada tonight.
Peter Wright and Gary Anderson won the tournament last year, but Scotland’s two PDC world champions opted not to defend it in Salzburg this year which opened the door for Henderson and Thornton.
Henderson said: “I’m really proud and it’s something I didn’t think I would do in the PDC if I’m being honest.
“I played in a World Cup for Scotland on the BDO side, but to have the opportunity to do it in the PDC as well is very special.
“It’s any sportsman’s dream to represent their country so it’s superb to have the opportunity.
“I could hardly believe it when I was told I was getting the chance so I hopefully myself and Robert can do ourselves justice.”
Henderson can understand why Anderson and Wright opted not to compete in the World Cup.
Anderson hasn’t played in any of the events held outside the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although Wright has played on the continent – including winning last weekend’s European Championship in Germany – he has also decided to give the World Cup a miss.
For Henderson the opportunity was too good to turn down despite fears about travelling in the pandemic.
He added: “I can totally understand Peter and Gary not wanting to go. Peter went to Germany last weekend and won the European Championships.
“I know he doesn’t want to fly anywhere and he has been driving to the events in Europe and I understand his issues around travelling.
“Gary is the same and I can totally understand that and with them not playing it’s given me a massive opportunity, Robert has done it before but it’s giving him another chance.
“It was a no-brainer when I got the call about it. I think Austria is going into lockdown again but I still wanted to go.
“I spoke to my wife Veronica to check she was OK with it and she said it was a chance I might never get again so I should go for it.
“It’s maybe not a great time to be travelling but it was a no-brainer to play in the World Cup.”
Henderson and Thornton are good friends and practise together on the circuit.
They have also played together in pairs events years ago when they were both in the BDO.
Henderson hopes that previous experience may help during the World Cup.
He said: “At a lot of the Pro Tour events I often get together with Robert and practise before the matches start.
“He’s easy to play with and he’s such a fine guy that you relax because he doesn’t put pressure on you.
“I’m comfortable playing with Robert and I think that’s important.
“We played in three pairs tournaments together in the BDO days and I think we won two of them so that’s a decent record.
“They were just local events and we’re speaking probably about 12 or 13 years ago, but we’re looking forward to playing together again and hopefully we can merit our places in the team.”